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People who make a difference: Rashad Cobb

Community member, volunteer, mentor; Literacy Green Bay, Green Bay School District, Family Services of Northeast Wisconsin

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October 19, 2022

BROWN COUNTY – Though much of his adult working life has been spent supporting and championing for the community he calls home, Rashad Cobb said giving back wasn’t always something he did.

Growing up in Southeastern Wisconsin, Cobb – the first-ever chief operation officer of United Way of Brown County – said it wasn’t until he moved to Green Bay that he began to see the importance of being involved in the community.

“When I moved to Green Bay 18 years ago, that’s when I saw the need to get involved,” he said. “I, for sure, had some positive encounters moving here, but one of the things that stuck out to me was the perception of a large number of community members regarding people of color from Southeastern Wisconsin – and what they were doing for and doing to this community. I was disheartened by some of the remarks and language I heard, so I took it upon myself to get involved.”

Cobb said he was determined to show people he could be a positive example.

“Maybe people’s views were limited to a small number of interactions or news articles,” he said. “When you get down to who we are one-on-one, I wanted to show you what a person from Southeastern Wisconsin could do in your community – that was the driving force.”

Cobb said the area is making progress in some of those perceptions, but more can be done.?

“I think the community has a desire to be better,” he said. “In some pockets, we see people moving in the direction of change, but we still need to do more. I don’t want to oversell or undersell the progress we’ve made.”

Focusing on equity
Cobb was able to accomplish those goals through his position with the Greater Green Bay Community Foundation (GGBCF), as its director of equity and community initiatives.

“I took the lead on making sure, as an organization, we centered equity on all the work we were doing,” he said. “No matter if you worked in finance, at the front desk or worked with the donors, you gave some thought on how to keep equity at the top of the list.”

In the role, Cobb was responsible for leading the foundation’s efforts in specific program areas related to equitable practices, nonprofit capacity-building, collective impact work, grantmaking and other community-wide initiatives.

While at GGBCF, Cobb said he was heavily involved in the homelessness initiative.

“The last major project I did for GGBCF was leading the community through a blueprint to prevent and end homelessness,” he said. “It is a 90-plus page document with a series of strategies and actions. If executed, it will move the needle on preventing housing insecurities and homelessness in our community.”

Cobb said even though he has left GGBCF, he continues to be involved in trying to accomplish that.

“There’s a lady who was hired as the project implementation manager – she is carrying the work out now,” he said. “The beauty of that project is that it is a collaboration between GGBCF, Brown County United Way, The City of Green Bay and Brown County – I’m still a part of that collaboration. We recently had a meeting to discuss things.” 

Brown County United Way
Cobb said he continues to be a part of that collaboration through his new position with Brown County United Way, as the organization’s first-ever chief operation officer.

With just weeks under his belt, the 45-year-old said so far, it’s going well.

“I’m excited and appreciative of the early learning and how helpful the team has been,” Cobb said. “My job is unique because it also incorporates lots of community involvement. My duties are a mix of helping to pick the direction and strategy of the organization. Day to day, I work with the different departments and staff to make sure the meaningful work they do is working toward the execution of the strategy that’s put in place.”

Growing up in Southeastern Wisconsin, Rashad Cobb said he didn’t get involved in community work until he moved to Green Bay 18 years ago. Chris Rugowski Photo

Cobb said United Way has always done a great job, but he wants to do even more.

“I think what I can bring to United Way – I’ve been intentional to be someone whom others can connect to – is building relationships with those different communities that can give me those insights about what their community needs,” Cobb said.
Other community involvement
Cobb’s community involvement doesn’t end when he leaves work for the day.

He said has also been involved in the Green Bay community in other ways.

“I’ve mentored young professionals and students in the Green Bay Area Public School District (GBAPSD) for more than 10 years,” he said. “I’m intentional about showing up. Several members of the GBAPSD know if they have a student or child who needs some mentoring, I’ll show up as I am able to. I’ve been able to build out a group of individuals whom I’ve helped.”

Cobb said he also gets a lot from mentoring youth.

?“It helps me understand how they’re going through the world – it looks different from when I was their age,” he said. “I mentor both during the school day and after. They don’t care if we go to Bay Beach, sit in a park or sit in my car and talk – it’s the time they want. Most importantly, it’s showing up and being engaged. So many people showed up for me.”

Cobb previously served as the education and career development coordinator for the Boys and Girls Club of Green Bay and a case manager for Family Services of Northeast Wisconsin, where he currently volunteers on its executive board.

He also serves on the board for Neighborworks, is a commissioner for the Green Bay Police and Fire Commission and the Green Bay Transit Commission, is a member of the diversity, equity and inclusion task force at the Greater Green Bay Chamber and was named Young Professional of the Year by Current Young Professionals, a program of the Greater Green Bay Chamber, in 2015.

Earlier this year, Cobb’s efforts were recognized at a municipal level when he was named Green Bay’s Citizen of the Year.
Mayor Eric Genrich credited Cobb’s community involvement as the basis for his selection.

Getting involved
Cobb said he encourages others to give back to the community as well, in a way that works for them.

“There are organizations in this town who need you,” he said. “Identify your interests and learn more. Your free time is valuable – I realize that.”

Cobb said volunteering could be as simple as being attentive to things going on around you.

“Keep an eye on kids who might spend time with your own children,” he said. “Be that parent who provides that ride, if you have the ability. My friends’ parents poured that into me. As I got older, I realized some of my friends’ parents knew I needed that ride to the basketball game. I needed that extra parent adult figure.”

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